Why didn’t Ron Washington bring in Neftali Feliz in the eighth inning?

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It’s the question ringing in everybody’s head this morning.

In the post-game press conference, Ron Washington was asked why he didn’t consider bringing in Neftali Feliz for a six-out save, instead of turning to Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, Clay Rapada and then, finally, Derek Holland (via the Dallas Morning News). You know, pretty much everyone except his best reliever.

“No. He’s never done anything like that. I wouldn’t do that. I had the people I wanted in the game. They didn’t get it done. It happens.”

That would be a fine retort if it was even remotely true. Fact is, it’s not. While none of them were “save situations,” Feliz has been used for six outs three times this season, including an extra inning win against these very same Yankees back on August 10. He has been asked to get at least four outs three other times. This season he has been groomed for short work out of the bullpen, but last season, eight of his 20 appearances were two innings or more.

“The Darrens” have been pretty effective this season, so I don’t necessarily disagree with using them, at least initially, but I just can’t understand how you put Game 1 in the hands of Clay Rapada. Why save Neftali Feliz for a save opportunity which may never come?

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?